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Administrative Reforms Commission

The suggestions of the second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) headed by Congressman and former Karnataka chief minister, M Veerappa Moily, are wide-ranging and sweeping in nature. Entitled Ethics in Governance, the report critically eyes the functioning of the executive, the legislature and the judiciary and lists rather radical ways of making them transparent and accountable. There is no area of governance that the ARC report has not touched on and that can be interpreted in either of two ways: Are the recommendations a carefully considered set of views that may seem radical but can be implemented with political will? Or is this a fantasy, the outpourings of the ARC and its chairperson, an out-of-office political functionary, seeking the limelight?

At one level, the 263-page report, replete with quotes from ancient and modern works of political science and philosophy, including the Upanishads, does lend itself more to the second interpretation. What does one make of the beginning of the Chapter 6 of the report, which has this definition: monopoly + discretion – accountability = corruption. This is followed by the tritest of observations: “The solution to the problem of corruption has to be more systemic than other issues of governance. Merely shrinking the economic role of the state by resorting to deregularisation, liberalisation and privatisation is not necessarily the solution to the problem. Those vested with power must be made more accountable, their functioning made more transparent and subjected to social audit.”

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